Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the dawn treader

I know there are those who are disappointed that the latest Narnia movie "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" doesn't always stick to the book. But I think as long as you go in to it knowing that the movie can never be as good as the book, it's much easier to deal with. You have to let the book be the book, and the movie be the movie. We saw the movie last night and really enjoyed it - it was well done, and the main themes of the book were kept intact.

Here's more about the differences between writing books and making movies, from movie reviewer Adam Palmer...

"Let’s talk a minute about the differences between books and movies, because, well, they are very… different. On the surface, that sounds like a pretty inane, obvious thing to say, but you’d be surprised how often people forget it. Especially when people are very attached to a particular book or movie that crosses one media plane into the other. Stories are told differently on the page than they are on the screen–paces are different, character establishment is different, audience expectations are different. (Example: information that can take paragraphs to describe in a book can be given in seconds in a movie.)
It is a general rule in movies not to stick too closely to the book you’re adapting. Yes, it is a marvelous blueprint, but sometimes you have to make concessions in order to make a good film. You are not writing your story down–you are trying to tell it visually, and so visuals matter. A classic case in point is The Wizard of Oz, which as a book and a film couldn’t be more different. In the book, Dorothy gets silver shoes, not ruby slippers. The Wicked Witch of the West is a plain Caucasian, not the green-skinned cackler iconically portrayed by Margaret Hamilton. Oh, and (spoiler alert) she’s not even really set up as Dorothy’s nemesis and dies halfway through the story. And these are just a few instances in one story.
Anyway, the point is this: don’t hold it against movies when they are different from books. The filmmakers aren’t actively trying to ruin the story–they’re trying to make the best movie they can.
Another thing. Part of what I love about the Narnia books, aside from the story, is C.S. Lewis’s writing style. It is absolutely unique and an integral and foundational aspect of the magic of Narnia. He just has a way with phrasing, with language, and with description. In fact, one of my favorite lines of all time comes from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and is downright unfilmable: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” That sentence alone tells you just about everything you need to know about Eustace while simultaneously setting the tone for the entire book.
The Narnia books are filled with brilliant touches of genius like that, which is what makes them so darn lovable. When I read one of them, I feel like I’m sitting in front of a fire with Lewis, listening to him tell me a story in between puffs on his pipe. It’s a very singular, jovial way of storytelling, and it is brilliant. But it is entirely impossible to put into a movie."

No comments: